THE JOHNNY HENDERSON GRAND ANNUAL CHASE CHALLENGE CUP (HANDICAP)
1st (15) Greenhope 20-1
Henderson Wins One For Dad
Although already successful twice at The Festival 2006, there was no race that trainer Nicky Henderson wanted to win more than that dedicated to his father Johnny, who died just over two years ago.
“I knew what I was trying to do. This was always my objective. This was always the plan,” said the emotional trainer, after Greenhope had stormed home to victory under jockey Andrew Tinkler.
“Fairy tales don’t often work, and obviously this was very, very special,” said Henderson, whose handkerchief spent more time out of his pocket than in it after the race. Henderson’s brother and sister were both present to witness the victory.
“I thought we were a bit short of options coming down the hill but he was always going well. Andrew’s given him a wonderful ride. Mick made the choice and got it wrong today. The whole family’s here - sisters and brothers and everybody so it’s very special.”
To give himself the best possible chance, Henderson had four horses in the race, Tysou, Caracciola and Tanikos taking their places alongside Greenhope at the start. “Obviously Mick [Fitzgerald, the stable jockey] had first choice,” said Henderson. But Fitzgerald choose Tysou (pulled up).
Nevertheless, Henderson was aware that Greenhope, who was sixth in the race last year, had the potential to put in a big run. “You can’t just make two-mile chasers and I knew I had some good ones. We had some problems with him, but he has talent,” he said.
Henderson’s father was a prime mover in the creation of the Racecourse Holdings Trust which bought Cheltenham and set in motion the modernisation of the facilities. “Cheltenham and I owe him an awful lot. Cheltenham for his help in putting the racetrack back on its feet...and he certainly put me on my feet,” said Henderson.
Andrew Tinkler declared: “Unbelievable! He jumped for fun and travelled and Mick said to me whatever you do just save down the hill. He’s fought all the way to the line and pricked his ears. It’s nice to have a winning partner and makes up for the last two days. I’d swap anything for that - it was amazing.”
Arthur Moore, trainer of the runner-up Tiger Cry, commented: "That was a super run - he jumped brilliantly. He has just found one too good on the day. He will now most likely go for a two-mile handicap chase at the Irish Grand National meeting at Fairyhouse."
JOHNNY HENDERSON GRAND ANNUAL CHASE
1 TYSOU (FR) (Bill Brown) Nicky Henderson 9-11-12 Mick Fitzgerald
Non-runner: Le Volfoni
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